Barley—In Shetland, a small stack of “bere,” or barley, was set apart in an annual offering to “Broonie” (the origin or real meaning of this name is unknown). There was a divination involved with this, in which the fortuneseeker would go blindfolded into the yard and walk around the stack THREE times sunwise and three times “widdershins” (against the sun), with arms spread wide; at the last turn one would embrace the shade of the future spouse (this ritual was called “Fadomin’ da Skroo”). If necessary, an undedicated stack would also suffice (or, in America, a haystack would do; at the end of running about it three times, a glimpse over the left shoulder would offer a peek at one’s future spouse).

In “Hallowe’en” by ROBERT BURNS, a young man named Will attempts this FORTUNE-TELLING custom, but “the stack he faddom’d thrice” is actually timber, and he gets a fright when he mistakes a log for a terrible old woman.


The Halloween Encyclopedia Second Edition written by Lisa Morton © 2011 Lisa Morton. All rights reserved